(Atlanta, GA) - Statement by Jalessah Jackson, Georgia Coordinator of SisterSong on signing of House Bill 481, a bill that would ban abortion in Georgia beginning as early as 6 weeks:
"We are committed to engaging, supporting and amplifying the needs and lived experiences of Indigenous women and women of color in order to achieve reproductive justice. We are a voice when issues emerge or when someone needs to stand up and speak out against racism and oppression and the unique ways that these injustices impact women of color. We know when it comes to policies that are designed to take away access to abortion, it is marginalized communities who are most at risk.
Time and again we have seen bills pushed to control the ability of women of color to make their own reproductive health decisions from when to become pregnant and raise children to dealing with obstacles to seeking abortion. It is clear that there is a political agenda to deny autonomy to women of color.
That is why we are so appalled that instead of dealing with the very real challenges facing women and families in our state, today Governor Brian Kemp signed House Bill 481. This new law will take away all access to abortion as early as 6 weeks. We know that many people do not even know that they are pregnant that soon and with the significant systemic barriers that women of color face in getting access to health services, it is that much harder to get into a clinic to confirm a pregnancy and talk through your options. We see how this attack on abortion would fall hardest on people who are already struggling with health disparities.
We have seen countless attempts to try to take away the right to abortion. Laws designed to close clinics or policies that deny health coverage, medically unnecessary restrictions that create extra barriers - all of these are about
making care unavailable and unaffordable. It is about taking away the right to make our own decisions. It is about controlling the decisions of low-income women and women of color and denying us the agency in our own reproductive lives.
We believe that the incredibly personal decision of when a person becomes a parent is one that we must each make for ourselves. That is a basic human right and a key tenet in our work to achieve reproductive justice.
Instead of wasting more time undermining the bodily autonomy of women of color, our governor should be dealing with the fact that the number of people living in poverty in our state is higher than the national rate.
One in 3 rural children in Georgia are growing up in poverty.
In Georgia, more than 1.5 million people are struggling with hunger - and of them more than 500,000 are children. Georgia also continues to rank at the bottom of the barrel on several key U.S. health rankings, including high rates of maternal mortality. These are very real issues that our so-called leaders could be spending time addressing instead of pushing for attacks on our reproductive health care.
We are raising our voices and we are rising up to say enough is
enough. We won't just watch as our rights are trampled on. We trust Black women to decide how to build our families. We trust women of color to manage our health. Marginalized people are pushing past unbelievable obstacles to create healthy, empowered, liberated lives. As reproductive justice advocates, we will keep speaking out and showing up to ensure that we can plan our families and raise our children with dignity, that we can have healthy pregnancies and deal with the maternal health crisis facing Black women, and that we control our bodies and our futures."
Jalessah Jackson is available for interview up on request.